Species of the month: October - Birch Bracket Fungus

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Birch Bracket resized J Bedford 685

Common Name: Birch bracket fungus

Latin Name: Piptoporus betunlinus

Identification: A common fungus that grows exclusively on birch trees. A white underneath, with the cap gradually getting darker from white to a greyish-brown colour.

Growth: Birch bracket grows exclusively on birch trees in the wild, although it has been artificially introduced to other tree species by people. It usually grows on birch which is either in poor health or dying.

Wildlife Value: This fungus is important for breaking down dead birch trees, eventually returning the nutrients stored within them to the soil, where they can enter the food chain again.

Where can they be found?: A very widespread species, found wherever birch trees grow.

  • An alternative name for birch bracket is razor strop fungus, as barbers used to use dried strips of the fungus to sharpen their razors.

  • Birch bracket is said to have many medicinal properties, containing compounds that are antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory.

  • It was even found in a pouch carried by Otzi the Iceman, a 5000 year-old mummified person found in the Alps. It’s thought Otzi was using the fungi to treat a parasitic worm! 

Wildife Gardening Tips:

  • Encourage fungi into your garden by creating a dead wood pile. This is also a great habitat for insects, reptiles and amphibians.
  • Start a compost heap. Not only will this help attract fungi into your garden, but they will help in turning garden waste into compost.
  • If you have the space, consider planting a silver birch tree. This will provide a variety of habitats for years to come, benefiting lots of species!

Please don’t pick birch bracket fungus; leave it in its natural habitat. Don’t pick any fungi that you can’t identify as safe to touch or eat. Stay safe and enjoy the spectacle of fungi in autumn.

Let us know if you've seen  Birch Bracket Fungus below...

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